£300 Op Brock fines set to stay

Hauliers and other commercial drivers could continue to face fines of £300 if they fail to follow approved routes to the Channel ports when Operation Brock is in place.

The power to impose fines was part of Brexit contingency measures that came into force in January.

The scene in December of lorries queuing for Eurotunnel. Picture: Barry Goodwin

The scene in December of lorries queuing for Eurotunnel. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Drivers who tried to get ahead of queues by rat-running through local roads risked on-the-spot fines[1] for not following instructions to stick to the M20 and other routes when Operation Brock was implemented.

Now the government says it wants to keep the powers to issue fines even though Brexit has been completed and there has been no major disruption or delays as commercial traffic adjusted to new arrangements.

Now that Brexit has been concluded, the government is consulting on whether to scrap so-called “sunset clauses” in the legislation.

But it has signalled in consultation documents that the Brexit-related restrictions will be scrapped but fines will continue.

The documents state: “It is our intention to continue to issue fines for failure to comply with the traffic restrictions when Operation Brock is activated. We believe that retaining the enforcement measures set out above, including the £300 fine, would act as a suitable punishment and deterrent.”

Cllr Paul Bartlett

Setting a higher fine would break precedence with what has been done previously under the relevant primary legislation, the consultation documents say.

Cllr Paul Bartlett, the deputy leader of Ashford council, broadly welcomed the proposal.

“I think there’s still difficulties with hauliers understanding the routes that they need to take. And I think that we need to maintain the weapons in our armoury to encourage them to do the right thing, but there will always be some difficult cases where they feel there’s a better route that will disrupt residents.”

He said compliance with Operation Stack had in general been very high, with most lorry drivers following the designated routes.

“There’s been a few appeals but a relatively insignificant number and only a few of those were upheld,” he said.

Cllr Paul Bartlett

Cllr Paul Bartlett

The job of administering and imposing fines has been done by Kent County Council, with most paying the charge directly

According to the government, scrapping so-called “sunset clauses” in the Brexit-related legislation means the Kent Resilience Forum would be better placed to deal with emergency planning:

“Removing the sunset clauses will provide the KRF with the ability to respond to circumstances appropriately and swiftly, minimising any disruption. The response plans are for temporary use and only implemented if strictly necessary to minimise traffic congestion in Kent.”

Hear more from Political Editor Paul Francis on Kent Tonight at 5.30pm on Freeview channel 7 and Virgin Media channel 159 or online by clicking here. [2]

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